Chapter 2.50
PUBLIC RECORDS INSPECTION AND COPYING PROCEDURES

Sections:

2.50.010    Policy.

2.50.020    Office hours.

2.50.030    Requests for public records.

2.50.040    Procedure for responding to requests for public records.

2.50.050    Copying and fees.

2.50.060    Disposition of funds.

2.50.070    Access to public records.

2.50.080    Protection of public records.

2.50.090    Misuse of public records – Penalty.

2.50.100    Exemptions.

2.50.010 Policy.

A. These procedures are established to provide a uniform system for all city departments to follow when requested to provide access to public records for inspection and copying.

B. This chapter constitutes the city’s rules and regulations to carry out and implement the Public Records Act, Chapter 42.56 RCW.

C. The city is required to maintain a current list of laws other than Chapter 42.56 RCW that the city believes exempts or prohibits disclosure of specific information or records of the city. Attached to the ordinance codified in this chapter is the city’s list of such laws (Exhibit A).

D. Pursuant to RCW 42.56.070(4), the city does not maintain an index of all records listed in RCW 42.56.070(3) because to do so would be unduly burdensome. The city of Edgewood is a small city with limited staff, and is unable to provide an integrated index of all of its public records.

E. The city shall designate a public records officer(s) under RCW 42.56.580, and such officer(s) must complete training as required by RCW 42.56.152. Any person wishing to request access to public records of the city, or seeking assistance in making such a request, should follow the procedures set forth in EMC 2.50.030 and contact the public records officer (the city clerk) of the city to submit such a request or to obtain assistance in making such a request:

City Clerk

City of Edgewood

2224 104th Avenue East

Edgewood, WA 98372-1513

Phone: (253) 952-3299

Fax: 253-952-3537

(Ord. 17-508 § 2).

2.50.020 Office hours.

Public records shall be available for inspection and copying during customary office hours. For the purposes of this chapter, the customary office hours shall be from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. (Ord. 17-508 § 2).

2.50.030 Requests for public records.

The Public Records Act (RCW 42.56.100) allows agencies to adopt rules to prevent unreasonable invasions of privacy, to protect public records from damage or disorganization, and to prevent excessive interference with essential functions of the city. Public records may be inspected or copied or copies of such records may be obtained, by members of the public, as set forth in this chapter.

A. Any person wishing to inspect or copy identifiable public records of the city should make the request in one of the following ways:

1. On the provided request form (available at City Hall or online: www.cityofedgewood.org);

2. By letter, fax, phone call or email addressed to the city clerk; or

3. In person at City Hall.

B. Any/all requests shall be presented to the city clerk who shall coordinate with the staff member responsible for the record requested, during customary office hours. The request shall include the following information:

1. The name of the person requesting the record;

2. The calendar date on which the request was made;

3. The nature of the request. (If the request is for a list of individuals, the city clerk may ask the requester if he/she intends to use the records for commercial purposes. The city is not authorized to provide lists of individuals for commercial purposes.) The city shall not distinguish among persons requesting records and such persons shall not be required to provide information as to the purpose of the request except to establish whether inspection or copying would violate RCW 42.56.070(9) (release of lists of individuals for commercial purposes prohibited) or RCW 42.56.240(14) (body camera recordings are exempt under certain circumstances), or other statute which exempts or prohibits disclosure of specific information or records to certain persons;

4. An accurate description of the record requested; and

5. The signature and other identifying information of the requester.

The city clerk may accept requests for public records that contain the above information by telephone or in person. If an oral request is made, the city clerk will generally confirm receipt of the information and the substance of the request in writing by filling out the city’s public request form, as well as the necessary contact information from the requester so that the city can respond. The confirmation will be deemed the correct statement of the scope of the request unless the requester responds with a different statement of the scope.

Many records are also available on the city of Edgewood’s website at www.cityofedgewood.org. Requesters are encouraged to view the documents available on the website prior to submitting a public records request.

C. The city may deny a bot request that is one of multiple requests from the requester to the city within a 24-hour period, if the city establishes that responding to the multiple requests would cause excessive interference with other essential functions of the city. For purposes of this subsection, “bot request” means a request for public records that an agency reasonably believes was automatically generated by a computer program or script.

D. If a public record request is made at a time when such record exists but is scheduled for destruction in the near future, the city may not destroy or erase the record until the request is resolved. (Ord. 17-508 § 2).

2.50.040 Procedure for responding to requests for public records.

A. Requests for copies of public records shall be recorded (indexed) in sequence.

B. Within five business days of receiving a public record request, the city must respond by (1) providing the record; (2) providing an internet address and link on the city’s website to the specific records requested, except that if the requester notifies the agency that he or she cannot access the records through the internet, then the city shall provide copies of the record or allow the requester to view the copies using the city’s computer; (3) acknowledging that the city has received the request and providing a reasonable estimate of the time the city will require to respond to the request; or (4) denying the request.

C. Additional time required to respond to a request may be based upon the need to clarify the intent of the request, to locate and assemble the information requested, to notify third persons or agencies affected by the request, or to determine whether any of the information is exempt and that a denial should be made as to all or part of a request.

D. If the requester fails to respond to an agency request to clarify the request, and the entire request is unclear, the city need not respond to it. Otherwise, the city must respond, pursuant to this section, to those portions of the request that are clear.

E. Upon request for identifiable public records, the city shall make public records promptly available to any person, including, if applicable, on a partial or installment basis as records that are part of a larger set of requested records are assembled or made ready for inspection or disclosure.

F. A public records request must be for identifiable public records. A request for substantially all records prepared, owned, used or retained by the city is not a valid request for identifiable records under this chapter; provided, that a request for all records regarding a particular topic or containing a particular keyword or name shall not be considered a request for all of the city’s records.

G. The city shall not deny a request for identifiable public records solely on the basis that the request is overbroad.

H. A requester may ask the city to provide, and if requested, the city shall provide, a summary of the applicable charges before any copies are made and the requester may revise the request to reduce the number of copies to be made and reduce the applicable charges.

I. Redactions of specific portions of public records and denials of requests for public records must be accompanied by a written statement of the specific reason for the redaction or denial.

J. If a decision is made to deny inspection/disclosure of a public record, the decision denying disclosure shall be reviewed by the mayor, upon consultation with the city attorney, which review shall be deemed complete within the second business day following the denial of inspection/disclosure, and shall constitute the final decision for purposes of judicial review.

K. Records requests may only encompass existing records. They cannot be used to obtain copies of records not yet in existence or in the possession of the city. (Ord. 17-508 § 2).

2.50.050 Copying and fees.

No fee shall be charged for the inspection of public records or locating public documents and making them available for copying, except as provided in RCW 42.56.120(3) and RCW 42.56.240(14).

When calculating any fees authorized under this section, the city may include all costs directly incident to copying public records, including the factors set forth in RCW 42.56.070(7)(a), and shall use the most reasonable cost efficient method available to the city as part of its normal operations. If the city translates a record into an alternative electronic format at the request of a requester, the copy created does not constitute a new public record. Scanning paper records to make electronic copies of such records is a method of copying paper records and does not amount to the creation of a new public record.

A. Fee Schedule. The charge for standard black-and-white photocopies is $0.15 per page; $0.10 per page for public records scanned into an electronic format or for the use of agency equipment to scan the records; $0.05 per each four electronic files or attachment uploaded to email, cloud-based data storage service, or other means of electronic delivery; and $0.10 per gigabyte for the transmission of public records in an electronic format or for the use of agency equipment to send the records electronically. The city shall take reasonable steps to provide the records in the most efficient manner available in its normal operations; and the actual cost of any digital storage media or device provided by the city, the actual cost of any container or envelope used to mail the copies to the requester, and the actual postage or delivery charge.

The city may charge a flat fee of up to $2.00 for any request as an alternative to fees authorized under this section when the city reasonably estimates and documents that the costs allowed under this subsection are clearly equal to or more than $2.00. An additional flat fee shall not be charged for any installment after the first installment of a request produced in installments. If the city has elected to charge the flat fee for an initial installment, it may not charge the fees authorized under this section on subsequent installments.

B. Certified Copies. Where the request is for a certified copy, an additional charge may be applied to cover the additional expense and time required for certification. Charges for certification may be found in the fee schedule on the finance webpage of the city’s website at www.cityofedgewood.org.

C. Sales Tax. The city will not charge sales tax on copies of records.

D. Use of Copying Services. The city is not required to copy records at its own facilities and may determine to use a commercial copying center. The city will bill the requester for the amount charged by the vendor.

E. Deposit or Payment by Installments. Before beginning to copy or scan records, the city clerk or designee may require a deposit of up to 10 percent of the estimated costs of copying or scanning the records selected by a requester. The city clerk may also require the payment of the remainder of the copying or scanning costs before providing all the records, or the payment of the costs of copying an installment before providing that installment.

F. Method of Payment. Payment may be made by cash, check, credit card, or money order to the city of Edgewood. (Ord. 17-508 § 2).

2.50.060 Disposition of funds.

Cash receipts shall be given for all money received for copies provided and duplicate receipt shall be retained in the finance department. (Ord. 17-508 § 2).

2.50.070 Access to public records.

The providing of public records shall be governed by the following procedures:

A. Public records shall be made available without disrupting essential functions of the office. Any city employee who believes that essential functions will be interrupted shall consult with the mayor.

B. Duplicate, carbon copy or other secondary records are to be dealt with in the same manner as the original or primary copy.

C. With regard to photocopying, prearrangement for copies of records is recommended so that they can be accommodated within the city clerk’s office work schedule. Other printing which cannot be produced within the city clerk’s office will be forwarded to the appropriate city department or outside business. The requester will be billed for such services.

D. With regard to taped or digital recordings, all of the provisions of this section and EMC 2.50.050 shall apply. (Ord. 17-508 § 2).

2.50.080 Protection of public records.

The city shall enforce reasonable rules to protect public records from damage, disappearance, disorganization, or destruction. Public records consist mainly of operational files that are subject to high usage. Public records will be inspected in the City Hall offices. Inspection shall be in the presence of the authorized department staff employee. Prior arrangements should be made for a convenient time for a staff member to assist and supervise the inspection so that essential functions of the office are not disrupted. No records shall be removed from a file except by a staff member. The staff member who will supervise the inspection will be assigned based on the work schedule at the time and availability. (Ord. 17-508 § 2).

2.50.090 Misuse of public records – Penalty.

Every person who shall unlawfully remove, alter, mutilate, destroy, disorganize, conceal, erase, obliterate, or falsify any public record shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. (Ord. 17-508 § 2).

2.50.100 Exemptions.

A. The exemptions to the disclosure of public records identified in Chapter 42.56 RCW, and future amendments thereto, are incorporated in this chapter. Attached to the ordinance codified in this chapter is the city’s list of such exemptions (Exhibit A). The city clerk shall maintain and make available for public inspection and copying a current version of Chapter 42.56 RCW.

B. The exemptions from public disclosure set forth in Chapter 42.56 RCW and as incorporated into subsection (A) of this section shall be inapplicable to the extent that information, the disclosure of which would violate personal privacy, can be deleted from the specific public record sought. A person’s right to personal privacy is violated if disclosure of information about the person would be highly offensive to a reasonable person and is not of legitimate concern to the public. No exemption shall be construed to permit the nondisclosure of statistical information not descriptive of any readily identifiable person or persons.

C. Inspection or copying of any public records exempt under this section may be permitted if any superior court finds, after a hearing with notice to the requester, all persons mentioned in the public records and the city, that the exemption of such public records is clearly unnecessary to protect any individual’s right of privacy or any vital governmental function.

D. Nothing in this section shall affect a duty of the city to disclose or withhold information pursuant to any other law. (Ord. 17-508 § 2).